(English) Spiritual Significance Of Diwali ... By Nalini Didi

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Diwali (also spelled Divali in other countries) or Deepavali is popularly known as the festival of lights. It is an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. For most of the hindus/Indians and working class, this is the biggest festival and the day when they want to be with their families and perform the prayers together in their homes. Deepavali is an official holiday in India, [2] Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Mauritius, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Myanmar , Fiji and Suriname. The name Diwali is itself a contraction of the word Deepavali (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvali), which translates into row of lamps.[3] Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas) (or Deep in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Some Indian business communities begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali, hoping for prosperity the following year. In Hinduism, Deepavali marks the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom of Ayodhya after defeating (the demon king) Ravana, the ruler of Lanka, in the epic Ramayana. In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha by Mahavira in 527 BC.[4][5] In Sikhism, Deepavali commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amritsar after freeing 52 Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir; the people lit candles and diyas to celebrate his return. This is the reason Sikhs also refer to Deepavali as Bandi Chhorh Divas, "the day of release of detainees". Deepavali is considered a national festival in India and Nepal. They never start Deepavali in debt. While Deepavali is popularly known as the "festival of lights", the most significant spiritual meaning is "the awareness of the inner light". Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal, called the Atman. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of this inner light, in particular the knowing of which outshines all darkness (removes all obstacles and dispels all ignorance), awakening the individual to one's true nature, not as the body, but as the unchanging, infinite, immanent and transcendent reality. With the realization of the Atman comes universal compassion, love, and the awareness of the oneness of all things (higher knowledge). This brings Ananda (joy or peace). While the story behind Deepavali and manner of celebration varies from region to region (festive fireworks, worship, lights, sharing of sweets), the essence is the same -- to rejoice in the Inner Light (Atman) .. 

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